February 11, 2022

1st Lt Mary V. Piper (1929-2022)

Editor's Note: We were saddened to learn that Mary Piper,  a Lifetime Member of MOAA and a Past President of our Black Hills Chapter,  has passed away.  Below is the obituary information provided on the Osheim Schmidt Funeral Home website.

Mary Piper, Rapid City, passed away peacefully on February 7, at Monument Health at the age of 92.  She was born December 20, 1929 in San Antonio, Texas, the daughter of immigrants Antonio and Carmen Vasquez from San Bueno Ventura, Coahuila, Mexico, one of five children 

Mom was the only child to attend high school and college.  She graduated from Incarnate Word College and earned her nursing diploma in 1951.  She joined the USAF in 1953 and was stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base as a 2nd Lieutenant.  She met and married a handsome fighter pilot named Charles A Piper Jr.   

She received her Flight Nurse Diploma and Wings in 1955. She was honorably discharged as a 1st Lt Air Force Reserve Nurse during her first pregnancy.  In 1955, women in the military could not serve their country if they had children. Mom and Dad had six children and later divorced. 

Mom was her son John’s greatest and loudest fan at baseball and basketball games. Everyone present will never forget her loud and boisterous enthusiasm which included an obnoxious cowbell. Treasured memories with son Richard included travels to Washington, DC and Spain, where she fluently conversed in Spanish much to Richard’s astonishment.  Other travels included trips to see family in Texas, Utah, Canada and Alaska. 

Her nursing career of 60 years included Saint John’s, Bennett Clarkson and the VA Hospital in Hot Springs. She completed her career at Sioux San Hospital where she spent 28 years. She proudly retired at age 80.  

In the course of her long and esteemed nursing career, mom received numerous awards. To name a few, Mom was a Spirit of Dakota nominee in 2006. The SD Nurses Association honored her with the Joy of Nursing Award also in 2006. Mary received the prestigious Carruth Wagner MD Award as the Nurse of the Year in 2010. She also received the Chief Nurse Officer Award for Outstanding Contributions to Nursing. After retirement, she traded in her crisp white uniform and nurses cap for capris. 

Her proud military service and patriotism kept her involved with The Retired Officers Association (now The Military Officers Association of America) and others. Mom was involved in many organizations all her life. She loved to sing and dance. Mom lived independently and was always cleaning her dream home. We will remember Mom for her spirited personality and love of life.  Survivors include son John (Vicki), daughters Morgan, Teryn, Logan; daughter Marian(Craig) Alexander, sons Matt (Sarah), Ross (Stephanie); son C.A.(Christine), daughters Callie Piper, Candice(Keith) Sano, Piper (Zach) Ferrell; son Marshall (Lynne), children Alexander (Taylor) and Alicia Piper; daughter Louisa Piper, 13 great grandchildren and many friends and colleagues. 

She was preceded in death by her son Richard in 2003, her parents and siblings. 

Visitation will be Sunday, February 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Osheim Schmidt Funeral Home.  Funeral services will be at 9:00 a.m. Monday, February 14 at Blessed Sacrament Church. Burial will be at the Black Hills National Cemetery at 2:00 p.m.  

A Memorial has been established to the Black Hills War Memorial Association.